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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Kenya: Tensions between Human Rights and Security, and the Shrinking Space for Civil Society

Date: 
Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 3:30pm
Location: 
441 Cannon House Office Building

Announcement

Briefing Series on the Shrinking Space for Civil Society

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a briefing on the growing tensions between human rights and security in Kenya, and the resulting impact on civil society in that country.

In March 2013, Kenyans went to the polls for the first time under a new constitution adopted in 2010. The previous elections, in 2007, had resulted in violence that killed 1,000 and internally displaced over 600,000 people. Given this history, and a reported turnout of over 86 percent, the relatively peaceful elections were hailed as a success story by many observers even though they brought to power Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto who had both been indicted by the International Criminal Court for instigating and financing the post-election violence. The alliance between the two leaders, who represent ethnic populations that confronted each other in the violence, worked in their electoral favor. In December of 2014 the ICC dropped the charges against Mr. Kenyatta, citing lack of cooperation from the government. International attention to Kenya has waned, as many in the international community have concluded that Kenya's darkest days are behind it. However, a spate of recent events, including the targeting of civil society and media freedoms, and the brutal treatment of Muslim communities in the government's fight against the Somali-based Islamist group al-Shabaab, raise alarms.

Our distinguished panel of witnesses will examine the state of civil liberties, describe the harassment of civil society organizations -- including the jailing of a blogger critical of the Kenyatta government -- and analyze recent legislation that unsuccessfully sought to limit foreign funding to Kenyan NGOs. They will also discuss the security situation after last September's Westgate Mall attacks, for which al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, and the tension between the Kenyan government and the Muslim community.

For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton at 202-225-8097 (for Mr. McGovern) or Carson Middleton at 202-225-2411 (for Mr. Pitts) or the Commission staff at tlhrc@mail.house.gov.

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Joseph R. Pitts, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC

Participants

Panelists

  • Jedidah Waruhiu, Commissioner, Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights
  • Njonjo Mue, Advocate, High Court of Kenya
  • Hussein Khalid, Executive Director, Haki Africa
  • Abdul Noormohamed, Legal Officer, Kenya Program of the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa

Opening Remarks

  • Congressman James P. McGovern, Co-Chair, TLHRC

Bios [PDF] 

114th Congress